Action for Leadership: UN Women supports global partner Nokia and e& to foster women’s leadership in the tech sector


Nokia – e& Action for Leadership closing event with UN Women
Nokia – e& Action for Leadership closing event with UN Women. Photo: Nokia

UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States (ROAS) has partnered with Nokia since 2021 to increase women’s leadership in the tech sector in the Arab States region. The partnership has included technical support to Nokia’s collaboration with its retail clients to grow a pool of talented women employees and foster their leadership capacities.

On 30 May, Nokia and e& held the closing session of its joint Action for Leadership initiative, at e& headquarters in Dubai. The initiative was sponsored by Rima Manna, Vice President of Middle East Unit at Nokia, and Dena Almansoori, Chief Human Resources Officer for e& Group.

For the previous six months, four teams of Nokia and e& staff developed business cases to respond to two challenges questions: “How can we use our technology innovation to increase accessibility to women and encourage women into tech?” and “how can new business models encourage Nokia’s and e& customers to use renewable energy?”. During the six months’ programme, the participating women benefited from mentoring and exposure to new fields of work across the two corporations, as well as a technical briefing on gender equality and sustainability from UN Women, and a face to face working session in Lisbon in February.

Each team pitched their business proposal during the final session and received feedback from the panels of Nokia, e& and UN Women personnel, concerning how the proposals combined gender equality and business viability to contribute to sustainable and inclusive development.

Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals highlight the importance of technology to achieve sustainable development and are integral to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women everywhere – including those left furthest behind. SDG 5 “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” commits governments, private sector and all other relevant stakeholders to “Empower women through the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology” (target 5.B).

Action for Leadership
Nokia – e& Action for Leadership closing event with UN Women. Photo: Nokia

The four teams developed innovative business models based on human-centred design thinking to develop sustainable and inclusive solutions. In doing so, the teams explored how their companies could become more attractive to top female and male talent by fostering more inclusive workplaces and work cultures. The solutions proposed addressed reducing electricity consumption, promoting safe ride-sharing, providing comprehensive mentoring of staff at all career stages, and increasing the number of women employed in corporate supply chains. 

Commending the teams for the results of their work, Dena Al Mansoori, Group Chief HR Officer, e& said “A year ago, we launched the Women in Leadership programme with Nokia and UN Women fueled by an unwavering belief that collectively, we can make real meaningful change. Today, I'm inspired by the remarkable ideas and solutions generated by our participants all determined to leave a positive impact on our communities. We are proud to be able to shape a different narrative, break barriers, and forge a path for women in tech where a more inclusive leadership can thrive.”

Nokia has been a driving force for women’s empowerment in the tech sector in the Arab States region. Rima Manna said "We're thrilled to have held the first face-to-face closing event in the Middle East with e& and UN Women, showcasing the ideas generated by these extraordinary women. Throughout the program, the participants not only embraced the challenges related to sustainability and women's empowerment but also demonstrated a remarkable capacity for collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking, leaving a lasting mark of excellence."

The success of the Action for Leadership initiative has demonstrated that inclusion of women results in more innovative solutions. Josephine Moss, UN Women Regional Coordination Specialist, congratulated the teams on their creativity in designing incentives for workplaces to attract and retain diverse talents, including women. Globally, women hold only 2 in every 10 science, engineering, and information and communications technology jobs.

Both Nokia and e& have committed to implement the Women’s Empowerment Principles to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community. The Nokia – e& Action for Leadership initiative is the fourth iteration of this model. Since committing to the WEPs in 2021, Nokia has co-led this effort also with its partners Zain Saudi Arabia, Deutsche Telekom, and STC.